Screeching, bumping and swaying, the Electric Railway streetcar was an economy changing way to transport North Ogden residents and North Ogden goods.
Commuters dropped their seven-cent fare into the metal money container with a tinkle that counted the number of fares deposited. The surges of electricity made the car almost seem alive. Starting, it lurched and plunged forward, bumped and swayed as it moved along, and it screeched and groaned as the brakes were applied.
Pleasant View was one of the first rural communities in the state to have local railroad or streetcar service. The line ran from Ogden to Pleasant View and later extended further north to the Utah Hot Springs resort, now known as Crystal Hot Springs. The Electric rail replaced the steam operated Dummy engine in 1907 and continued to run into the late 1930s.
Charles A. Peterson became the first conductor of the Electric Railway in Ogden. The front and the back of the cars were identical so when he arrived at the end of the line, he would pick up the metal money container and the steering and driving mechanism, and move to the other end to start back in the opposite direction. He would also turn around the commuter’s seats on a sturdy pivot so they would be facing the direction the streetcar was moving. All conductors had to swap sides in these electric rail cars since there wasn’t a place to turn the whole car around.
Stimulating the economy
The railroad opened up trade beyond what was possible before. It fostered the development of factories near the sources of raw materials and stimulated the development of western manufacturing.
Captain LeRoi Blaylock said, “The railroad and, in particular, the electrified line, provided North Ogden with not only good streetcar service to Ogden but also excellent freight service. The fruit canneries were able to ship their canned goods by the car-load and receive car-load shipments of cans from the can companies as well as other supplies.” Imagine the fragrance of the fruit packing houses loading up refrigerated cars with bushels of ripe peaches, cherries, and apricots. During the peak of the peach harvest season “It was not at all uncommon to see up to a hundred refrigerated cars leaving North Ogden in an evening,” Blaylock said.
The development of the Dummy line
The Ogden railway company was organized in 1883 and the original cars were pulled along the tracks by a team of horses. The steam powered “Dummy Line” came next and it was named as such because the locomotive was enclosed in a wooden box structure made to resemble a railroad passenger coach.
The largest contributing factor to the success of the Dummy Line was a bustling resort center at Hot Springs. During peak season for the resort, the dummy made hourly runs.
M. Nephi Manning remembered the pranks pulled on Lamoni “Monie” Holmes, the conductor for the dummy who was a North Ogden resident. In the cars, the stopping signal was a distinct buzz caused by pulling a chord stretched along each side of the car above the heads of the passengers. Boys pulled the signal cord in short rhythmic tunes and they greased the tracks to make the car slide past designated stops. Sometimes they removed the cars from the rails altogether! Manning said the conductor’s fuming and threatening enhanced the uniqueness of the traveling experience.
The Dummy Line continued with a somewhat irregular schedule until 1907 when it was replaced by an electric streetcar.